Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow. ★★★1/2
Broken is a fast paced story that crosses dystopia with superheros.
Decades in the future, earth’s been united under a single government and other planets have been colonized. Michael Forward is an extrahuman – someone with supernatural abilities. He was born with the ability to see possibilities of the future whenever he looks at someone’s face. And the possibilities show that the course of history depends on one mission. A baby boy can grow up to bring either great good or great evil to earth, depending on whether or not Michael succeeds in getting him off planet. And he sees that all possibilities of success depend on the presence of Broken, a homeless ex-superheroine. So this is a story about a teenage boy, a former superheroine, and a baby seeking an escape and hope for the future as the world falls apart around them.
Broken wasn’t especially great, but it was enjoyable. I liked the oddness of the central group and the form Michael’s psychic powers took, and the pacing and action were enough to keep me happily flipping the pages. It’s solid entertainment without any flaws or issues large enough to put me off.
It did sort of feel like two genres had been slammed together (superheros + dystopian), but the combination at least felt different from the hoards of YA dystopians out there. There’s never any explanation for why people have superpowers or how they work, but I just accepted it as a genre device and moved on. It’s like FTL drives in science fiction. Are you really going to question it?
Michael and Broken were the two protagonists, and I liked that they felt different enough to avoid falling into clear stock types. Broken in particular is allowed to be messier than most female protagonists you see. However, it was Michael who ended up being my favorite character of the book. He knows all of the grim futures that could lie in wait for him, and he demonstrates incredible bravery by continuing to do what he believes is right.
While Broken is the first in a series, it stands well enough on it’s own that I don’t feel the need to read the sequel to get a complete story. If the sequel followed the same cast, I might be willing to read it anyway. While Broken isn’t a novel I’ll be vigorously recommending, it’s not something I’d discourage anyone from reading.